Saigon Cheesesteaks for the WIN-NGUYEN!!

Saigon Cheesesteaks
Sometimes I like to do C-R-A-Z-Y things…..

You know – kooky things like mashing up Philly Cheesesteaks with the comforting Vietnamese Thịt Bò Xào.

Say Whaaat???? I know, but just hear me out.

Thịt Bò Xào is a quick beef stir-fry we used to eat weekly growing up and we all loved it. It was hearty, garlicky, and well–beefy! The added bonus is the wonderfully rich sauce it created that we use to spoon over our rice bowls.

So freaking good.

Saigon Cheesesteaks
The other night I was about to make up a pan of Thịt Bò Xào when I caught a glance of leftover hoagie rolls sitting on the counter. And that’s when I got struck with a bit of genius! Or madness!

Sometimes it’s a blurry line with those two characteristics.

Why not throw the Thịt Bò Xào inside a roll and top it off with cheesy goodness?

Ain’t nothing bad about that!

Saigon Cheesesteaks

So I rolled the dice and gave it try!

I stir fried some ribeye beef and veggies, added a few slices of pepper jack cheese, stuffed it inside the hoagie and topped it with some bright cilantro leaves.  And no surprise here–it was AWESOME!! The beef had the same type of richness like the beloved Philly Cheesesteaks but the Asian flavors combined with that luscious sauce I had mentioned was a definite game changer!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the Philly Cheesesteak because I’m one of its biggest fans! But this is a fun twist and I do love variety!

And since this weekend kicks off College Football Season (FINALLY!)–it gives me the perfect excuse to whip up these Saigon Cheesesteaks again as I cheer on my beloved❤ Trojans as they take on Crimson Tide!

Fight On, ‘SC!

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Saigon Cheesesteaks
Makes 2

Ingredients:

½ pound thinly sliced ribeye beef
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ yellow onion, sliced
5 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons Maggi or Soy Sauce, more to taste
4 slices cheese (pepper jack, provolone, Swiss, etc.)
2 hoagie/sub rolls, sliced and toasted
red chili flakes
fresh cilantro to garnish

 

In a small bowl, mix together the beef, garlic, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and black pepper. Set aside.

Heat the remaining vegetable oil and butter in a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Swirl the pan around until the butter melts. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until both have softened and become lightly browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Push the items to the side of your wok/skillet (or remove to a plate if your wok/skillet is not large enough) and add the beef. Turn the heat up to medium-high and quickly stir fry the beef for 1-2 minutes or until lightly brown. This should not take a long time since the beef is so thin.  Mix the onion/tomato/mushroom mixture together with the beef. Stir in Maggi (to taste) and additional cracked black pepper if desired. Pull the pan off the heat.

Keeping the mixture in the pan, divide it into two. Place the cheese slices over each of the portions and cover with a lid until the cheese melts. Open each roll and add half the meat mixture inside. Sprinkle the tops with red chili flakes and cilantro.

Serve immediately.

Bún Tôm Nướng Sả – Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp over Vermicelli Noodles

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
If you follow me on Instagram then you’ve more than once (okaayyy….more like a thousand times!) heard me rant that basic, everyday Vietnamese dishes aren’t really difficult and are often times quick to cook — but it’s the “mise” that will get you.

We love our condiments and dipping sauces and every dish has its own specific ones to compliment them. Tons of different textures? A MUST! Garnishes? We’re OBSESSED! And I’m not referring to the last minute little sprig of parsley you throw on once you’re done plating. I’m talking about pickled veggies, crispy fried shallots, all kinds of fresh veggies, scallion and chili oils, roasted nuts, savory caramel sauces, and tons–and I mean TONS- of fresh herbs!

We take it to a whole new level!

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp

Which brings me back to my initial statement that the actual “cooking” part of the dish can be about 5 minutes whereas the prep and mise en place could add an additional hour!

Mixing sauces, chopping, mincing, dicing, MORE CHOPPING, roasting–and my least favorite as a kid, washing all the herbs. I know it sounds ridiculous but I really hated being on herb washing duty.

Maybe because we had so much of them all of the time?

Maybe because Mom wanted each leaf perfectly plucked from the stems?

Or maybe because I had to meticulously blot them each dry with a paper towel because wet herbs “watered” things down?

Had I even known that a salad spinner existed, I would have gladly used whatever little money I had at age 8 to buy one. It would have saved me from all the trauma—but I digress……

Vietnamese Mise en Place

I don’t mean to frighten Vietnamese cuisine novices from giving my peeps’ food a try—more of just a heads up. And once you start cooking Vietnamese more regularly, there are a few shortcuts such as:

  • Keep a large jar of basic Nước Chấm (dipping sauce) in your fridge. Just leave out the Sambal and doctor it up to best compliment that particular dish you’re fixing up – ie. fresh chilies instead of Sambal, fresh finely minced ginger, etc.
  • Đồ Chua are the pickled carrots and daikon you’ll find in tons of noodle dishes and bánh mì. My recipe below is a quick method using just carrots as I didn’t have any daikon on hand but if you make a large batch, jarred Đồ Chua can last in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks.
  • Lots of Asian grocery stores these days carry sả bằm (finely minced lemongrass) in their freezer section–often in little plastic tubs or bags. This is perfect for those folks who don’t use lemongrass often or just don’t want to hassle with all the mincing—though a food processor can also address the latter issue.

And of course, if you’ve got some good knife skills, then you’ve just cut the challenge in half (yea, I went there). Since so much prep is about dicing, mincing and slicing—it’ll be a breeze for you.

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp

Bún Tôm Nướng Sả is a relatively low fuss dish I make quite often when I get a hankering for a big old bowl of Vietnamese goodness. I marinate a bunch of shrimp with lots of minced lemongrass (yup, I keep a tub in my freezer!), throw them on the grill (or grill pan or in this case, my cast iron skillet) and then nestle them on top of a mound of cool vermicelli noodles along with a hefty amount of veggies/herbs, Đồ Chua, Hành Mơ (scallion oil) and crunchy peanuts.

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
The whole thing then gets doused with a generous amount of nước chấm and fresh chilies for an added kicked. The bowl is filled with tons of different textures and crunch, light yet savory with a tremendous amount of freshness from the veggies/herbs and acidity from the nước chấm. If I had some leftover homemade egg rolls in the freezer, I would fry them up and add them to the bowl too! NGUYEN-ing!!!!!

Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking of it.

And you betcha’ those are my Yoda lightsabre chopsticks below. Because when it comes to mise, Master Yoda would say “Patience you must have my young padawan!”

Yup…anyway to infuse some Jedi lessons…..

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
This would be just as tasty if you used thinly sliced chicken instead of the shrimp–or a combo of both! It’s your world, get a little crazy!

As for the prep time these days, I kind of like doing it now. Maybe it’s nostalgic, maybe 30+ years later I’ve become a little more patient….. But oddly enough, i find it rather relaxing—especially with some good music in the background and a glass of vino within arms reach. Because yes, vino should always be involved.

Ăn Ngon!

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Bún Tôm Nướng Sả – Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass
Shrimp over Vermicelli Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimped, peeled and deveined
quality Vietnamese fish sauce, divided
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pinches black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 heaping tablespoon finely minced lemongrass
1 cup rice wine vinegar
sugar, divided
1 cup shredded carrots
¼ cup of canola oil
½ cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons hot water
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Sambal chili paste, more or less to taste
cooking spray
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 package vermicelli noodles, prepared according to package directions
1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ roughly chopped roasted peanuts
fresh chilies

In a large bowl, mix the shrimp, 2-3 dashes fish sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic powder and lemongrass. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl or shallow plate, whisk the rice wine vinegar and 2-3 pinches sugar together. Add the carrots and allow to “quick pickle” in the fridge.

Prepare the hành mơ (scallion oil). In a sauté pan, slowly heat the canola oil. Add the chopped scallions. Cook the scallions on very low heat until they are wilted but still bright green. Approximately 2-3 minutes. Pull from heat and set aside.

Prepare the nước chấm (dipping sauce). In a small bowl or jar, mix ¼ cup sugar with the hot water until the sugar starts to dissolve. Stir in ¼ cup fish sauce, lime juice and Sambal chili paste. Set aside.

Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator 5 minutes before cooling to take the chill off. Heat your grill pan/cast iron to medium-high and lightly cover with cooking spray (or prepare outdoor grill). Grill the shrimp for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side until it’s opaque and turns pink. Remove to a large plate.

Divide the lettuce and noodles between four bowls. Add the pickled carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, and cilantro. Top the bowls with the grilled shrimp and generously brush them with the hành mơ. Sprinkle the bowls with the crushed peanuts and serve with nước chấm and fresh chilies.

Short-Cut Roast Duck Noodle Soup

Roast Duck Noodle Soup

It’s that time again….

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

Tết – the Lunar New Year! And this year marks the Year of the Monkey….the Fire Monkey. Which means if you were born the years of the Dragon, Snake or Ox — good things should be coming your way. As for me, I’m of the Horse and as long as nothing “ominous” is slated, I’m totally good with that.

Roast Duck Noodle Soup
In honor of Tết, I decided to share with you a “short-cut” version of Roast Duck Noodle Soup. What’s the short-cut? I run out to Sam Woo BBQ to pick up one of their roast ducks! And I’ll be honest with you, there’s not one part of me that feels bad doing it either.

Their Cantonese style ducks are stuffed with bean paste, scallions and MAGIC….before getting a shellac of a honey mixture to get the skin crispy and brown. The duck is then chopped up and served with either a plum sauce or a dark dipping sauce that at first glance looks like an oily soy sauce. But it’s more of a rich, umami filled broth. DEFINITELY ask for extra because that’s what I add to the soup to give it some extra OOMPF!

No Sam Woo BBQ in your area? BUMMER! But any local Chinese BBQ spot – or even restaurant, will do the trick. Just be sure to ask for the broth-like dipping sauce.

Roast Duck Noodle Soup

In addition to the dipping sauce, the soup consists of stock (duck -if you have it, otherwise chicken is fine), toasted spices and aromatics, as well as a few pieces of the roast duck. I usually just throw in the wings and duck head since I’m not one to gnaw on either of those parts.

Roast Duck Noodle Soup
After the soup simmers for some time, it’s ladled over some egg noodles, bok choy and served with pieces of the roast duck. Easy Peasy!

The dish is my quick nod to Mì Vịt Tiềm – which is Vietnamese Roast Duck Noodle Soup. However, since the duck isn’t marinated in Five Spice, the soup and duck itself isn’t as dark as traditional Mì Vịt Tiềm. It’s also doesn’t have the deep flavor that Five Spice imparts which is why I like to make a spice sachet of toasted anise, coriander, black pepper and cinnamon to mimic it.

Roast Duck Noodle Soup
Once again Friends, let me say Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!! 

May this Year of the Monkey bring you and your loved ones Health, Luck, Laughter and endless Adventures……

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Short-Cut Roast Duck Noodle Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 star anise
6 cloves
½ cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
1 small white onion
3 inch piece of fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, slightly smashed
4 quarts low sodium duck stock or chicken stock
1 quart water
1 store-bought chopped Peking/Cantonese style roast duck with dipping broth/sauce
kosher salt
fish sauce
Maggi seasoning (or low-sodium soy sauce)
2 cups sliced shiitake or oyster mushrooms
2 scallions, diced
12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles
1 small bunch bok chok, trimmed and washed
½ cup cilantro leaves
Thai chilies, minced

 

Place the star anise, cloves, cinnamon, coriander and peppercorns in a small skillet. Over low heat, toast the spices for 2-3 minutes; frequently shake the skillet to toss the spices. You’ll want to toast them until they’ve browned but not burned. Transfer the spices to a small plate to cool completely. Once they’ve cooled, place them with the bay leaves in the center of a square piece of cheesecloth. Gather up the edges of the cloth and tie it into a bundle with kitchen twine. Set aside.

 

Using tongs to hold the onion, carefully char the exterior over an open flame of your stove burner—rotating the onion to char evenly. Set aside and repeat with the ginger. This can be done under the broiler of your oven as well.

 

Pour the duck stock, water, about a cup of the duck dipping broth/sauce and sachet of spices into a large pot. Add the duck wings, duck head (if included), charred onion, charred ginger and garlic into the pot and bring the liquids to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, periodically skim off and discard any impurities that may have formed. Stir in 1-teaspoon salt, 1-tablespoon fish sauce, 1-tablespoon Maggi and add the scallions and mushrooms. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes.

 

Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Boil the egg noodles according to the package until al dente. Remove the noodles from the pot (save the boiling water) and drain in a colander. Divide the noodles amongst six bowls. Drop the bok choy into the boiling water and stir around for 30 seconds. Remove the bok choy and divide amongst the bowls.

 

Taste the broth and add additional fish sauce or Maggi as needed. Bring to a rolling boil and then ladle the broth into each bowl. Top each bowl with mushrooms and a few pieces of roast duck. Garnish with cilantro and chilies. Serve immediately with a dish of the remaining dipping broth/sauce.

Gỏi Cuốn Tôm {Shrimp Spring Rolls}

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Dear Mother Nature,

You know that I adore Spring and Summer. In fact, I’m a Sun Baby through and through.

It may be a result of those early years where I froze in the Minnesota snow and now I’m at my best when I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face and can wear my flipflops 365.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

But with that said, I think you’re playing a cruel practical joke on me this late in the game.

90+ degree weather EVERY day this week?!?!

And that’s with mi casa sitting on the coast. Where or WHERE did you send my beloved Pacific Ocean breeze?

My poor puggle and I are melting.

Melting….

And it’s already September.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls.

Lately, all I want are Spring Rolls and popsicles….and slurpees.

Gỏi Cuốn, as you know, are Vietnamese spring rolls….sometimes noted as “summer rolls”.

They’re light, filled with veggies and low maintenance.

Thankfully, because I can barely muster enough energy to boil water to cook the vermicelli noodles and poach the shrimp. And lucky for both of us, I don’t like poached pork belly which is commonly used in Vietnamese spring rolls. It gives me one less thing to worry about.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Now, if my face wasn’t melting off my head (is that T.M.I.?), I’d marinate the shrimp in a little garlic, fish sauce and then grill them. It really does add that extra oompf of flavor but trust me, poaching them are just as delish.

Oh–and Mother Nature, if you’re fixing up some spring rolls, feel free to add in other herbs and veggies you may have on hand….bell peppers, bean sprouts, Thai basil….

And thin slices of poached pork belly if it tickles your fancy.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring RollsAnd once you’re done making your rolls, could you find it in your heart to send back our “normal” weather?

We would love you even more….like, times infinity.

xoxo❤ ,

N

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Gỏi Cuốn Tôm {Shrimp Spring Rolls}
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup boiling water
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned daikon radish
8 sheets round bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets)
lettuce leaves
2 cups cooked vermicelli noodles
1 small Persian cucumber, sliced thinly lengthwise
fresh mint leaves
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh Thai basil, optional
fresh Vietnamese coriander, optional
1 dozen poached shrimp, sliced in half lengthwise
8 thin scallions or Chinese chives

Prepare the đồ chua (pickled vegetables). In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the carrots and daikon and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. *This can keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and are a must in Vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì).

Dip one rice paper sheet in warm water and place on a flat surface. The rice paper will slowly become pliable. Lay one piece of lettuce in the middle of the rice sheet and top with vermicelli noodles, cucumber slices, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander and some of the refrigerated đồ chua. Lay 3-4 shrimp slices, cut side up, in one line above the layer of vegetables.

Tightly roll the bottom of the rice paper over the mound. Fold the right side of the roll in and lay one scallion/chive above the roll. Fold the left side in and continue rolling the rice paper up until you’ve created a secured roll. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve at room temperature with hoisin peanut sauce or other dipping sauce of your choice.

 

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm for Tết – {Vietnamese Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}

Well gang…in true Nam form, I’ve waited to the last minute to finish scrubbing down my house. And I need to get my act together because tomorrow is the beginning of Tết – the Lunar New Year!

Will I ever learn??

Doubt it.….

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
But hey — I get points for having the majority of mi casa scrubbed down, lì xì (lucky money in red envelopes) all ready, ancestral altar is up and Bella got a bath. It’ll be a mad rush over the next few hours but it’s Tết and it needs to be done to optimize my luck for the year. I don’t like to gamble with bad ju-ju…especially since the Year of the Sheep (or Ram) is predicted to be a good one for me.

THANK BUDDHA!

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
It’s going to be a crazy time with the family and I’ll be headed up to Orange County in a day to begin the shenanigans with them. Lots of food, lots of booze, loud talking (we’re not arguing–we just speak HELLA loud), lots of kids, lots of games and if all goes well, a lot of luck and prosperity for my o’hana.

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
To celebrate Tết, I wanted to share my Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm which is sticky rice served with Vietnamese style fried chicken (aka…marinaded in fish sauce). It’s not a traditional Tết dish but it’s so darn good! Fried chicken swathed in a sticky, sweet, salty and spicy sauce –everything that speaks to the Vietnamese palette. Couple it with sticky glutinous rice and it’s HEAVEN!

So to you my dear friends, Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!! Wishing you all an extremely fulfilling, prosperous, joy filled, healthy and delicious Year of the Sheep!!!

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Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

½ cup fish sauce (I use Việt Hương Three Crabs or Red Boat)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup warm water
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced ginger
3 – 4 Thai chilies, minced (more if you prefer)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon black pepper
2½ – 3 pounds chicken, bone-in and skin-on (I prefer drumsticks and thighs)
2 cups sweet glutinous rice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
peanut oil (you can substitute with vegetable oil if need be)
1 cup rice flour
½ cup all purpose flour
garnish: toasted sesame seeds, minced chilies, chopped scallions and chopped cilantro

In a bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, sugar, water, shallots, garlic, ginger, chilies and black pepper. Pour the marinade into large gallon Ziploc bags- you may need more than one depending on the size of the chicken. Rinse the chicken under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken inside the Ziploc bags. Massage the chicken in the marinade and try to get most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. Put the bag(s) of chicken in a large bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

While the chicken marinates, prepare the sticky rice. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Fill a large bowl with cool water, add the rice and soak it for about 2-3 hours. Drain the water and place the soaked rice in a rice cooker. Fill the cook with about 2/3 inch of water. Stir in the salt and cook according to the settings of your rice cooker. Alternatively, you can use a bamboo steamer and follow my directions posted here

An hour before you start cooking the chicken, pull it from the refrigerator to take the chill off of it. Pour the marinade into a small sauce pan and set aside. Fill a large, heavy bottom pot with about 2-3 inches of the oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

Take the chicken and use paper towels to blot off the excess moisture. In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour and all-purpose flour.

After the oil comes to temperature take a few pieces of chicken at a time and roll it into the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and carefully place the pieces into the oil –being careful to not overcrowd the pot. Depending on the size of the chicken, allow the pieces to fry for 10-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Once done, allow the chicken to drain on a wire rack. Continue dredging and frying until all the chicken has been cooked.

While the chicken is frying, cook the marinade over medium-low heat until it reduces by half. Toss the fried chicken into the reduced marinade. Plate with a portion of sticky rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, minced chilies, chopped scallions and chopped cilantro. Serve warm.

 

“You Know Whose” Copycat Asian Garlic Noodles

Garlic Noodles

You know who I’m talking about right?

The one who I probably shouldn’t name.

No, not Volde–DOH!  Man…that was a close one!

Oh to heck with it…… I’m talking about the An family. You know…the gatekeepers of the Thanh Long, Crustacean, ANQI (and more!) Dynasty!

Garlic Noodles

Oh how I love their butter dripping, garlic staggering roasted Dungeness crab and noodles. Many places have developed their own riff off of Mama An’s famed crab and noodles (including yours truly) but I’ll always have a soft spot for the old nostalgic and original Thanh Long in the Outer Sunset of SF. It’s where my seester first brought the family over 20+ years ago when the restaurant looked like a small mom and pop joint with mismatched plates and peeled painted walls.

Aromatic garlic perfumed the small restaurant with the constant sounds of cracking crab. But a lot has changed since then…..a boom of high-end sister restaurants and the creation of an empire.

But one thing remains the same…..those DAMN GARLIC NOODLES!!!!!!!!!!

Buttery, garlicky, decadent…..SOOO GOOD!

Garlic Noodles

So good that although I’ve posted my knock off recipe nearly 4 years ago, I believe they deserve a re-post. Especially with better pictures! Ugh…I cringe at how bad those earlier photos were.

These garlic noodles are so darn easy to make and are the PERFECT accompaniment to seafood—particularly shellfish. But like I said before, you cannot skip out on the magic ingredient – Maggi Seasoning Sauce. Don’t let anyone else lie to you…there’s really no substitute. It’s a couple of bucks and can be found in any Asian grocery store. It lasts a gazillion years so just pick up a bottle and keep it in your cupboard. Just trust me on this.

k2-_7811589a-cadb-480d-98d4-6f9d0287da02.v1

I whipped up these noodles the other week to accompany a quick Asian-style shrimp scampi. The meal was pretty much a BUTTER FEST so obviously it was a hit. But if you want to go vegetarian, sear up some tofu and throw them on a mound of these noodles. You’ll love them just the same.

Now back to trying to scheme–I mean “build” my own empire……

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“You Know Whose” Copycat Asian Garlic Noodles
Serves Approximately 4

Ingredients:

1 pound chow mein noodles (fresh if possible)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Maggi Seasoning
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 scallion, chopped
2-3 pinches toasted sesame seeds

Cook the chow mein noodles according to the direction on the package. Drain the noodles, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy water.

In a wok or large sauté pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic but not browned, approximately 1-2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, sugar and Maggi. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove the wok from the heat and quickly toss the noodles into the mixture. Sprinkle in the black pepper and cheese. Toss the noodles ensuring that it is thoroughly covered. You may add a tablespoon of the pasta water as needed to loosen the pasta.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the scallions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Cá Nướng is a really common Vietnamese dish of roasted fish. And although it’s most often made with catfish because of its firm and somewhat fatty flesh, you can use any fish that can hold up to high heat while still staying moist.

When given the choice, I recommend roasting a whole fish. Not only does it help retain moisture but you’ll almost always get a better flavor when you cook your proteins bone-in.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

This is when it’s so nifty to have a trusted fishmonger — or in my case, an Asian grocery store, nearby. The latter almost always has live catfish on hand (so you’ll know it’s super fresh) and both options can do the dirty work for you –which I totally appreciate as I hate cleaning fish.

And don’t be surprised to see your once silver/black catfish “turn” white when it comes back cleaned for you. Many fishmongers will scrub the catfish skin to remove the dark outer layer. Although it’s completely edible, the darker skin does make your fish taste a tad “fishier” so the extra scrub down is a good thing.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

I’ve adopted my eldest seester’s method of preparing Cá Nướng which is not only easy to do but is rather simple when seasoning the fish. A lot of folks will use a variety of aromatics and spices to marinate it. But since you’ll typically dunk the roasted fish into a nước chấm (dipping sauce), you can stick with a minimal preparation before cooking the fish as the sauce will provide the extra flavor punch.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Cá Nướng can be served over rice, with vermicelli noodles, inside a bánh mì (sandwich) or how we typically like it —cuốn bánh tráng (wrapped in rice paper).

The rolls are filled with tons of fresh herbs and veggies that when combined with the roasted fish, is absolutely amazing. They have tons of different textures, knock-out flavor and are deliciously light on the tummy.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Serving your Cá Nướng as spring rolls is also a fantastic way to entertain family-style and would be a prefect al fresco dining option during the upcoming warm months. Your guests will love making their own rolls and adding their favorite items inside.

And don’t let the ingredients list and recipe fool you. It may seem like a lot of different components but it’s not difficult at all. You can also prepare many of the components in advance to cut down on prep time.

Easy and delish……Total Nguyen-Win!

 

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Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Ingredients:

¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup chopped scallions
1 whole catfish (2-3 pounds), cleaned/scaled with head removed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 scallions stalks
½ cup fried shallots
¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For Nước Chấm dipping sauce:
¼ cup nước mắm (fish sauce)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup  fresh lime juice,
2 tablespoons warm  water,
1 finely minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon chili paste, more to taste

Serve with:
1 package bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets)
lettuce leaves
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup đồ chua (pickled carrots and daikon slices)
fresh mint leaves
fresh Vietnamese cilantro leaves
fresh Thai basil leaves
whole Thai chiles
lime wedges

Prepare scallion oil (hành mơ):  In a sauté pan, slowly heat the vegetable oil over low. Add the chopped scallions. Cook the scallions until they are wilted but still bright green–approximately 2-3 minutes. Pull from heat and allow the scallion oil to cool until room temperature.

Rinse the fish with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Coat the fish with the scallion oil and season the exterior and interior with the garlic powder, black pepper and kosher salt. Stuff the fish cavity with the scallion stalks and prop it upwards on a baking tray. Allow the fish to marinate for 20 minutes.

While the fish marinates, prepare the nước chấm.  Whisk all the items together in a small bowl. Add chili paste to taste. Set aside.

Roast the fish in an oven heated to 400 degrees F for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the flesh is opaque and cooked through. Turn on the broiler of your oven and broil the fish for about 60-90 seconds to slightly crisp & brown the skin. Remove the fish from the oven and transfer to a platter. Top the fish with the fried shallots, chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves.

To serve the fish as a spring roll (bánh tráng cuốn), dip one rice paper sheet in warm water and place on a plate/flat surface. The rice paper will slowly become pliable. Lay one piece of lettuce in the middle of the sheet and top with some of the fresh herbs, đồ chua, cucumber slices and pieces of the fish. Spoon some of the peanuts and fried shallots on top. Tightly roll the bottom of the rice paper over the mound and then fold the sides in. Continue rolling the rice paper up until you’ve created a secured roll.

Serve the rolls and fish with the nước chấm. Ăn ngon!